Thrifty or shopaholic? It's all in your genes, study suggests
A couple strolls through the relative calm of the Lloyd Center Mall, in Portland, Ore., on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. (AP / The Oregonian, Beth Nakamura)
Published Thursday, February 26, 2015 12:50PM EST
Your genes play a role in how much money you keep in your jeans, a new study suggests.
Money-saving habits appear to be partially genetic and are not necessarily dependent on your age, according to the study from researchers Henrik Cronqvist and Stephan Siegel.
The findings run counter to the notion that people save while they’re young to splurge when they’re old. According to economists Cronqvist and Siegel, you’re more likely to save because it’s in your genetic makeup, regardless of your age.
So keep that in mind during RRSP season.
“Each individual is born with a genetic predisposition to a specific savings behaviour, an effect that is found not to disappear in later life,” Cronqvist and Siegel write in their paper, titled ‘The Origins of Saving Behavior.’
The two finance professors conducted their research using the Swedish Twin Registry, the world’s largest database on twins. They found the spending habits of genetically identical twins were more than twice as likely to be the same as the habits of fraternal twins, who share only 50 per cent of the same genes.
Identical twins showed similar spending habits 33 per cent of the time, while the spending habits of fraternal twins matched up only 16 per cent of the time.
That means these thrifty or shopaholic genes can run in the family.
Cronqvist and Siegel say parenting can influence a younger individual’s spending habits, but those parenting lessons will decay “significantly” as the individual moves into middle and then old age.
Nature, it seems, will eventually overcome nurture.
Additionally, a wealthy family can moderate the effects of these spender-saver habits so they are not as extreme.
Cronqvist and Siegel also noticed a correlation between spending, education, smoking and obesity, suggesting all four might rely on the same tendencies toward self-control and patience.
Their findings add to the growing field of genoeconomics, a new approach to finance that looks for genetic reasons behind people’s financial behaviour.
Others have found evidence that genetics can play a role in how much risk a person takes on the stock market.
Cronqvist and Siegel published their findings in the February edition of the Journal of Political Economy.